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Professional Email Etiquette Rules: Bring Out the Senior Manager in You!

Dear management position aspirant losing out on professional email etiquette,

We all take advantage of the communication era. With minimum effort and waiting time reduced to zero, our messages reach anyone, in any corner of the world. It’s been estimated that almost 269 billion business emails are being sent daily in 2017* around the globe. Surely you are contributing to this figure as well, but are you also creating an overwhelming amount of non-professional Emails?

What is the best email etiquette especially when writing to a headhunter or other employees in your office? Additionally, given that we all tend to take breaks from work, you’ve probably had a few ‘out of office’ alters set, which could have potentially reached a headhunter or senior managers. What etiquette must you follow so that you get replies?

Business Email Etiquette

How to write emails your audience cannot wait to open

Here’s our friendly professional email etiquette guide, focusing especially on how to avoid damaging your online reputation over emails.

First some honest introspection: How professional are the emails that you send? To get a reasonable answer, take a test. Let’s say that each of the points below account for 10% professionalism. In case you are confident enough to tick them all in green, congratulations! Your emails are 100% professional. If not, then do the math and develop a strategy on how to improve (please, yes).

  • Professional Email Etiquette 1: It starts from the subject

The subject line comprises of maximum 7 words which describe best the content of the message. Even when super busy, there’s no reason why the subject itself has to be the email. If so pressed for time, why not just pick up the phone and call?

  • Professional Email Etiquette 2: The greeting

Your email doesn’t begin abruptly, but with a friendly/formal opening greeting, depending on the case. By looking at how people sign-off their emails, you can get a good indication of how they want to be addressed. This could vary culturally, so when in multicultural environments, why not just take care? We all know you’re cool, but perhaps being ‘professional’ is a better image at work.

  • Professional Email Etiquette 3: The body

A single format type, no words written in caps only (unless you really want to shout at the recipient), no typos or grammar mistakes. There’s a difference between ‘you’re’ and ‘your’. If you’re writing from your Smartphones, please use the typo warning at the end: please excuse any typos due to smartphone, or something like this. It helps. Also, personally, we don’t feel particularly great about an email that comes in ten different colors. Stick to one, please. If you do need to stress something, then you use bold or italics. If something is very urgent- go to the person, or call. It’s good to remember once in a while that email is not the only mode of communication left.

  • Professional Email Etiquette 4: The topics

You approach a minimum of topics per email (one topic is recommended), so that the receiver doesn’t get confused or distracted.  Also when responding to many queries, how about setting up a Wiki page- or any blog page (internally when in your office, not on Facebook groups) so that everyone can see it?

  • Professional Email Etiquette 5: The factual details and attachments

You get your facts right and double-check before sending data around. Also when sending data, ensure that it is ‘short’ , ‘meaningful’ and the attachments are not ginormous. Remember that there are people reading your emails on their phones.

  • Professional Email Etiquette 6: The short-forms and acronyms

No short-forms like, LOL, nyc, kewl, Rgds are not ok, even if you’re feeling it – really, which senior professional wants to sound like a teenager on Twitter? Other Acronyms are also left out, unless you are certain that the recipient speaks your coded language. Usually this holds true when sending emails outside the organization. There is no reason for forced brevity when no one can understand it.

  • Professional Email Etiquette 7: The ending and your signature

Wrap up your message nicely: the closing maintains the tone of the email content (whenever in doubt, choose ‘thank you’ – that almost never fails) and your signature stays within the limit of 5-6 lines. Also use plain text signatures (unless there is an absolute corporate policy denying you that. It is rather annoying to send emails with picture attachments that just come via the signature). Please do not use quotes from the Fountainhead or Godfather as your ‘signature’ lines. No one cares, really. Plus why let anyone judge you based on what you’re reading personally?

  • Professional Email Etiquette 8: The length and key message

You acknowledge time is a valuable resource, so your email is short and to the point – after all, that’s the exact type of emails you would want to receive, right? Also, perhaps you can use email gifts: end of message, no need to respond- just let the reader know what needs to be done, easily.

  • Professional Email Etiquette 9: The out-of-office

The out-of-office is a tool used to help. Now let’s meditate on this for 20 seconds. Many of us want to be cool. Here’s a cool rule we know from our teen days, don’t try too hard. Sorry, but weird hashtags, alcohol references, unwanted holiday details, ‘cool’ images with no real information, missing details on who can be contacted in case of an emergency, help no one. Quick check: would you expect your CEO to write a message like that? You do not want to come across as a teen just growing out of adolescence. No one cares about how cool you are, you do not need attention gaining gimmicks- all you do need is a professional message that can be helpful to the person writing in. That is the purpose of an out of office email. End of story.

  • Professional Email Etiquette 10: The reply to all

‘Reply to all’ is a feature, often not necessary, unless you wanted to portray a false sense of productivity. Just so you know, it is annoying to all those on CC, and it’s showcasing you as the one without work.

How do you score on the professional email etiquette front?

Best Regards,

Your Experteer team


* Email Statistics Report, 2017 – 2021 by The Radicati Group Inc. 

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